Posts tagged election 2012

Red v Blue, Not So True

Via Chris Howard:

America really looks like this - I was looking at the amazing 2012 election maps created by Mark Newman (Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan), and although there is a very interesting blended voting map (Most of the country is some shade of purple, a varied blend of Democrat blue and Republican red) what I really wanted was this blended map with a population density overlay. Because what really stands out is how red the nation seems to be when you do not take the voting population into account; when you do so many of those vast red mid-west blocks fade into pale pink and lavender (very low population).

So I created a new map using Mark’s blended voting map based on the actual numbers of votes for each party overlaid with population maps from Texas Tech University and other sources.

Here’s the result — what the American political voting distribution really looks like.

Images: Chris Howard’s “blended” voting map, via Facebook (top); Mark Newman’s 2012 voting maps by state, county and percentage vote by county (bottom). Select to embiggen.

Building USA TODAY’s Election Night Maps
MapBox General Manager Dave Cole walks us through the realtime election mapping platform it created for USA Today for last week’s election.
Via Mapbox:

Throughout the 2012 election cycle, we’ve been fascinated with idea of visualizing realtime election results. On election day starting when voting concludes on the East Coast, newsrooms race to process and visualize vote totals in each of the 50 states, 435 congressional districts, and 3,200 counties across the country. The Associated Press provides a feed of results data aggregated from staff deployed across the country on eight minute intervals. Since nearly all news outlets subscribe to this data, the race to report results first is really about having an incredibly short time to publish, while maintaining a steadfast focus on reliability during what’s often the highest traffic night for news websites. The excitement of the night and availability of a reliable source of fast data make this a really exciting problem to solve.

The stack includes:
Live rendering tile server
Server-side static map image generation
Client-side dynamic image manipulation
SVG vectors with VML fallback
Map Rendering
Geodata Processing
Ultimately, MapBox and USA Today developers then created a JSON API to pull the AP’s XML data in to the application for both Web and mobile display.
Read through to learn how it was done and what tools were used.
Image: iPad view of USA Today’s live election results, via MapBox.

Building USA TODAY’s Election Night Maps

MapBox General Manager Dave Cole walks us through the realtime election mapping platform it created for USA Today for last week’s election.

Via Mapbox:

Throughout the 2012 election cycle, we’ve been fascinated with idea of visualizing realtime election results. On election day starting when voting concludes on the East Coast, newsrooms race to process and visualize vote totals in each of the 50 states, 435 congressional districts, and 3,200 counties across the country. The Associated Press provides a feed of results data aggregated from staff deployed across the country on eight minute intervals. Since nearly all news outlets subscribe to this data, the race to report results first is really about having an incredibly short time to publish, while maintaining a steadfast focus on reliability during what’s often the highest traffic night for news websites. The excitement of the night and availability of a reliable source of fast data make this a really exciting problem to solve.

The stack includes:

  • Live rendering tile server
  • Server-side static map image generation
  • Client-side dynamic image manipulation
  • SVG vectors with VML fallback
  • Map Rendering
  • Geodata Processing

Ultimately, MapBox and USA Today developers then created a JSON API to pull the AP’s XML data in to the application for both Web and mobile display.

Read through to learn how it was done and what tools were used.

Image: iPad view of USA Today’s live election results, via MapBox.

Color Would Be Helpful
Via Flowing Data.

Color Would Be Helpful

Via Flowing Data.

Big Data, Demographics and the Undiscovered Voter
The New York Times has a great piece on the final six weeks of the presidential campaign.
There’s a lot in there in terms of strategies, momentum and setbacks but the use of data and demographics is eye opening:

In Chicago, the [Obama] campaign recruited a team of behavioral scientists to build an extraordinarily sophisticated database packed with names of millions of undecided voters and potential supporters. The ever-expanding list let the campaign find and register new voters who fit the demographic pattern of Obama backers and methodically track their views through thousands of telephone calls every night.
That allowed the Obama campaign not only to alter the very nature of the electorate, making it younger and less white, but also to create a portrait of shifting voter allegiances. The power of this operation stunned Mr. Romney’s aides on election night, as they saw voters they never even knew existed turn out in places like Osceola County, Fla. “It’s one thing to say you are going to do it; it’s another thing to actually get out there and do it,” said Brian Jones, a senior adviser.

New York Times, How a Race in the Balance Went to Obama.
Image: An Obama victory party in Manchester, NH, via the New York Times.

Big Data, Demographics and the Undiscovered Voter

The New York Times has a great piece on the final six weeks of the presidential campaign.

There’s a lot in there in terms of strategies, momentum and setbacks but the use of data and demographics is eye opening:

In Chicago, the [Obama] campaign recruited a team of behavioral scientists to build an extraordinarily sophisticated database packed with names of millions of undecided voters and potential supporters. The ever-expanding list let the campaign find and register new voters who fit the demographic pattern of Obama backers and methodically track their views through thousands of telephone calls every night.

That allowed the Obama campaign not only to alter the very nature of the electorate, making it younger and less white, but also to create a portrait of shifting voter allegiances. The power of this operation stunned Mr. Romney’s aides on election night, as they saw voters they never even knew existed turn out in places like Osceola County, Fla. “It’s one thing to say you are going to do it; it’s another thing to actually get out there and do it,” said Brian Jones, a senior adviser.

New York Times, How a Race in the Balance Went to Obama.

Image: An Obama victory party in Manchester, NH, via the New York Times.

thepenguinpress:

Salon says “Nate Silver nails it.” Above, a comparison of FiveThirtyEight’s predictions compared to the results thus far.
(We’re also thrilled Silver’s book The Signal and the Noise is currently #3 on Amazon!)

FJP: For more thoughts on polls, see here.

thepenguinpress:

Salon says “Nate Silver nails it.” Above, a comparison of FiveThirtyEight’s predictions compared to the results thus far.

(We’re also thrilled Silver’s book The Signal and the Noise is currently #3 on Amazon!)

FJP: For more thoughts on polls, see here.

Election Night, International Edition
ICFJ:

Bored of U.S. elections coverage? These 50 international reporters across the U.S. will help you see Election Day with fresh eyes. They’re observing the differences between voting here and in their countries and keeping us up-to-date on developments.

Pictured above are snippets from their live election night coverage.
Background:

Though the results of the 2012 U.S. Presidential elections will be announced to the world on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 50 foreign journalists will be providing first-hand reports on the outcome to their readers, listeners and viewers in their home countries. This opportunity comes from their participation in The Elections 2012 Visiting Journalists Program.
The program, which will run from Oct. 25 to Nov. 8, offers each participant a front row seat to history, as they will be stationed in battleground states across the United States.
With reports coming from Florida, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada and others, readers and listeners in Pakistan, Russia and 44 other countries can follow stories about the voters, about the issues that typically dominate U.S. election coverage and about the candidates themselves.
During the two-week program, which is sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Press Center, the journalists will also sit in on a series of briefings in Washington, D.C. Sessions and panels will be conducted by media trainers, seasoned campaign reporters and election scholars, to give the journalists a glimpse into the democratic process before they witness it themselves.
Participants for this program were nominated and have been selected.

Election Night, International Edition

ICFJ:

Bored of U.S. elections coverage? These 50 international reporters across the U.S. will help you see Election Day with fresh eyes. They’re observing the differences between voting here and in their countries and keeping us up-to-date on developments.

Pictured above are snippets from their live election night coverage.

Background:

Though the results of the 2012 U.S. Presidential elections will be announced to the world on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 50 foreign journalists will be providing first-hand reports on the outcome to their readers, listeners and viewers in their home countries. This opportunity comes from their participation in The Elections 2012 Visiting Journalists Program.

The program, which will run from Oct. 25 to Nov. 8, offers each participant a front row seat to history, as they will be stationed in battleground states across the United States.

With reports coming from Florida, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada and others, readers and listeners in Pakistan, Russia and 44 other countries can follow stories about the voters, about the issues that typically dominate U.S. election coverage and about the candidates themselves.

During the two-week program, which is sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Press Center, the journalists will also sit in on a series of briefings in Washington, D.C. Sessions and panels will be conducted by media trainers, seasoned campaign reporters and election scholars, to give the journalists a glimpse into the democratic process before they witness it themselves.

Participants for this program were nominated and have been selected.

The Election as Graphic Novel
Just look at it.

The Election as Graphic Novel

Just look at it.

Polling Iranians and Syrian rebels
We more or less understand which candidate is favored in which state, and we know that Europe, to speak very generally, likes Obama, even if its with less enthusiasm this time. But the opinions of other, more worrisome regions are not always considered. Let’s take a look.
In the Universities of Iran, politics professors see little difference between the candidates, but quotes taken from Tehran’s street life strikingly resemble those of, umm, the East Village.
From WaPo:

Unlike the Iranian establishment, ordinary citizens say they see major differences between the two candidates. Among many, the belief seems to be that Iran could be attacked by the United States or Israel if Romney becomes president, while they see a greater possibility for a peaceful solution if Obama is re-elected.
“Most of my colleagues and I believe that Obama is better because he is moderate and wants peace, while the Republicans talk about war, which frightens us,” said Marjan, a 43-year-old high school teacher.

In Syria, where rebels struggle to fight a seemingly unending civil war, one rebel leader has voiced his support for Mitt Romney.
From the Guardian’s Middle East Live blog:

A senior rebel commander in Syria says he is backing Mitt Romney in today’s US presidential election because he is the candidate mostly likely to provide weapons to the rebels.

Interested elsewhere? See this Guardian article.
Photo: During a break from fighting, Syrian rebels dance in a house in Aleppo. Zain Karam/Reuters. See other incredible photos from the Syrian war here, posted today.

Polling Iranians and Syrian rebels

We more or less understand which candidate is favored in which state, and we know that Europe, to speak very generally, likes Obama, even if its with less enthusiasm this time. But the opinions of other, more worrisome regions are not always considered. Let’s take a look.

In the Universities of Iran, politics professors see little difference between the candidates, but quotes taken from Tehran’s street life strikingly resemble those of, umm, the East Village.

From WaPo:

Unlike the Iranian establishment, ordinary citizens say they see major differences between the two candidates. Among many, the belief seems to be that Iran could be attacked by the United States or Israel if Romney becomes president, while they see a greater possibility for a peaceful solution if Obama is re-elected.

“Most of my colleagues and I believe that Obama is better because he is moderate and wants peace, while the Republicans talk about war, which frightens us,” said Marjan, a 43-year-old high school teacher.

In Syria, where rebels struggle to fight a seemingly unending civil war, one rebel leader has voiced his support for Mitt Romney.

From the Guardian’s Middle East Live blog:

A senior rebel commander in Syria says he is backing Mitt Romney in today’s US presidential election because he is the candidate mostly likely to provide weapons to the rebels.

Interested elsewhere? See this Guardian article.

Photo: During a break from fighting, Syrian rebels dance in a house in Aleppo. Zain Karam/Reuters. See other incredible photos from the Syrian war here, posted today.

Better Pundits
Via Raw Story:

Using maracas, coca leaves and a hallucinogenic brew, shamans in Peru got down to business Monday using pre-Columbian traditional ceremonies to pick a winner in the US presidential race.
“The apus (gods of the hills in indigenous mythology) tell us (Barack) Obama will be reelected,” predicted Juan Osco, known as the Shaman of the Andes on San Cristobal hill overlooking Lima.

Raw Story, Ayahuasca-drinking shamans in Peru give Obama the win.

Better Pundits

Via Raw Story:

Using maracas, coca leaves and a hallucinogenic brew, shamans in Peru got down to business Monday using pre-Columbian traditional ceremonies to pick a winner in the US presidential race.

“The apus (gods of the hills in indigenous mythology) tell us (Barack) Obama will be reelected,” predicted Juan Osco, known as the Shaman of the Andes on San Cristobal hill overlooking Lima.

Raw Story, Ayahuasca-drinking shamans in Peru give Obama the win.

Show Me the Money
Global Post takes data from opensecrets.org about the money spent on this year’s presidential election.
Interesting to see that while Romney outspent Obama, Obama almost doubled up on him in the fundraising department (and raised three times as much from small contributions of $200 or less). The difference in total funds is that Super PACs and other outside groups supported Romney by an almost 3 to 1 margin.
You can see the how, where and details by clicking through for the full graphic.

Show Me the Money

Global Post takes data from opensecrets.org about the money spent on this year’s presidential election.

Interesting to see that while Romney outspent Obama, Obama almost doubled up on him in the fundraising department (and raised three times as much from small contributions of $200 or less). The difference in total funds is that Super PACs and other outside groups supported Romney by an almost 3 to 1 margin.

You can see the how, where and details by clicking through for the full graphic.

After thousands of polls and months of manufactured news cycles, Election Day is finally here. The horse race, however, isn’t quite over, and you should expect pundits to milk these final hours of everything they’re worth. Before precincts begin reporting at 6 p.m. (when some counties in Kentucky and Indiana close their polls), millions of antsy observers will latch onto all kinds of misinformation in hopes of gleaning the eventual outcome. In order to survive the night with your sanity intact, it helps to know what to look out for — and what to ignore.

Nate Cohn, The New Republic. What to Watch for — and Ignore — on Election Day.

Yes, it’s a stressy day, but while Twitter posts some few thousand times per minute about truth, lies, rumor and consequence, Nate Cohn goes through some electoral history to help us figure out what to keep in perspective.

In other words, keep in mind the value of slow news. As Dan Gillmor has said, “The sooner something is on Twitter after a major event, the more skeptical… or at least the more you should reserve judgement about it.”

Calling all Citizens: You Have a Right to Record

Today is a day we can (and should) all be journalists, especially if we witness voter suppression. Here’s how to do it safely. 

Free Press:

Video the Vote is a nonpartisan effort to train thousands of people to document any instances of voter suppression and disenfranchisement at polling places across the U.S. The group is particularly interested in finding people who can livestream from swing states where there is a heightened concern about ongoing voter-suppression efforts (see a full list of target counties here). Video the Vote is even offering a $100 stipend to volunteers.

If you’re planning to record from a polling place or interview voters, it’s important you know your rights and understand local laws. Video the Vote has put together a great set of resources to help citizen journalists. A few key points from the group’s Election Day Code of Conduct include:

  • Observe and document; don’t influence.
  • Remain a legal distance from the polling place.
  • Get permission from voters before you film them.
  • Never argue with a poll worker.

Before you head out, contact Barni Qaasim at Video the Vote at barni@videothevote.org for more information and to connect with other citizen journalists in your area.

Harvard’s Digital Media Law Project has an excellent and detailed legal guide to documenting the vote.

FJP: Go vote! Be smart. And be fearless.

Nate Silver on the Colbert Report

The New York Times’s Nate Silver, creator of the influential 538 election forecasting blog, talks pundits versus statistics, and how probability drives his forecasting methodology. 

He has no love for pundits, and says that given the choice between them and Ebola, he’d go with Ebola.

Bonus: Want more on electoral polling? Jihii has a great piece on what it all means, and where it can go so wrong.

Mapping Election Money

NPR’s It’s All Politics looks back at the 2008 presidential election and uses cartograms to visualize how and where campaign and Super Pac money was spent. By sizing states by money spent rather than by their physical size, we see the (very) few states that campaigns and their backers consider important.

For example, campaigns spent almost $6 per vote in Nevada and less than a penny in California.

Takeaway, via It’s All Politics: “There are really only 12 states in this presidential election.”

We imagine the 2012 maps will look the same when all the data comes in. It will just include a lot more money. See the Sun Foundation’s Dark Money tally to see what we mean.